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Salary and Career Info for a Digital Designer

Digital design careers require moderate formal education. Learn about the degree requirements and job duties to see if this is the right career for you.

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Digital designers are typically required to have a bachelor's degree in graphic design, fine arts, digital design or digital art. While it may be possible to enter the field with a certificate or associate's degree, completing a bachelor's or master's degree may increase job prospects.

Essential Information

Digital design is a growing specialty in the field of graphic design. Digital designers use creativity and computer skills to design visuals associated with electronic technology. They create everything from websites and computer-game graphics to special effects for movies, and may work in a variety of industries, including entertainment, education, and advertising.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% for all graphic designers
Median Salary (2015)* $46,900 for all graphic designers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Information for Digital Designers

Job titles for digital designers include multimedia artist, animator, Web designer, 3-D artist, graphic designer, and creative director. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median salary in 2015 for multimedia artists and animators was $63,970, while the median salary for graphic designers in general was $46,900. The median salary for a Web developer in 2015 was $64,970, according to the BLS.

Career Information for Digital Designers

The BLS projects that the employment of graphic designers in general could increase by as much as 1%. During the same decade, multimedia artists and animators may see job opportunities increase by 6%, with growth driven by the need for animation in movies, TV and video games.

Education Requirements for Digital Designers

Most employers require a bachelor's degree for entry-level designers. Many colleges and universities offer four-year programs in graphic design or fine arts, with some offering programs that specialize in digital design or digital art. There are also professional art schools that offer associate degrees and certificates in design, which can qualify graduates for entry-level design jobs. A Master of Fine Arts can enhance a designer's job prospects.

Aspiring digital designers need to be educated in graphic design principles, as well as in computer technology, such as animation and 3D-modeling software, Web programming, and computer graphics software.

Digital Designer Job Functions

The primary task of a digital designer is to apply graphic-design principles to solve a digital graphic communication need. Digital designers work with both manual and computer tools. They may sketch out several ideas before creating 3-D models with computer software. Those who create complex animations or designs for TV and film often work with computer programmers to complete the project.

Digital designers must be familiar with the technology of the areas in which they work, whether it's HTML coding for Web pages or 3-D animation software for creating games, movies, or special effects.

Career Options for Designers

Digital designers can choose from a variety of career options. Industries that hire the largest number of multimedia artists and animators, according to the BLS, are motion picture and video, computer systems design, software publishers, advertising and public relations, and specialized design services.

In addition to Web design and computer games, digital designers work on such graphics projects as interactive museum or art exhibits, educational software, and animated illustrations for products such as medical devices.

Designers usually begin their careers working under the supervision of more senior staff designers. With experience and skill development, they can become senior designers or creative directors.

Some designers start their own businesses, selling digital design services to individuals and companies. Others are freelancers, contracting with other businesses to work on specific projects. Usually self-employed designers first gain experience working as employees under a senior designer.

Digital designers use computers to create visual images that are used for websites, computer games, or for special effects in movies. They must be artistically skilled and comfortable with computer software used to generate digital images. The salary range depends on the specific job title, but may vary between roughly $45,000 to $65,000 per year.

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